2014 NFL Draft Rankings: Johnny Manziel and the Top Quarterbacks
The 2014 NFL Draft is in May this year, and while it takes a move away from the usual stage in April, it still feels like it’s only a week away. The NFL Combine is a thing of the past, too, leaving just the free agency period and pro days separating us between probably the second biggest day of the NFL season (second to the Super Bowl, of course).
But luckily, we do have enough time to assess some of the top talent, rank them, scout them and try to figure out where certain players would best be able to use their talents at the next level. To get it started, we’ll take a look at arguably the most important position in the game and rank the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft.
It’s a ranking that doesn’t come without questions and some controversy, but isn’t that what scouting the draft is all about? Exactly. With that, let’s break down the top passers in this year’s crop:
1. Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)
Manziel isn’t everyone’s top quarterback in this class, but in terms of sheer talent and upside, he probably should be. He has questions when it comes to size and decision-making, but Manziel is the best natural runner out of all the quarterbacks and his improvising skills are off the charts.
2. Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville)
Bridgewater doesn’t have the upside of Manziel, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that he’s more polished and the safer overall prospect. Bridgewater has the ideal package of size, arm strength and athleticism scouts look for, and there really isn’t much not to like. He’s got a lower ceiling that some of the other prospects, but what you see is what you get – and that’s not a bad thing.
3. Blake Bortles (UCF)
Bortles packages good arm strength with elite size and underrated athleticism. His biggest concern is a lack of polish and an overall plate of so-so competition. He did have some quality performances against some tough opponents down the stretch last year, though, and also helped UCF to a very good season. He has all the physical tools to be a franchise passer at the next level and is a locked-in first round pick.
4. Derek Carr (Fresno State)
Carr is a potential first rounder, but of the top-four passers, he’s probably the first that makes sense as a guy who could slide into the second round. He has a cannon for an arm and good athleticism, but his weak competition and accuracy concerns are what could ultimately sink his draft stock a bit. He’s still got untapped potential, though, so if the right team falls in love with him he could absolutely still be a day one selection.
5. Zach Mettenberger (LSU)
Mettenberger’s stock has slid considerably thanks to mixed reviews and a torn ACL, but there’s no denying his NFL size and arm talent. He also faced stiff competition throughout college and had some solid performances in some big games. He’s pr0bably going to end up being a boom or bust prospect and could even be a late first round draft choice if the right team views him as the answer under center.
6. Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois)
Garoppolo has solid size and a big arm, and also spent his final season at Eastern Illinois putting up over 5,000 passing yards and 53 touchdowns. While no one can knock his talent or production, it’s fair to question his overall ability at the next level considering his lack of great competition. He impressed in the Shrine game and Senior Bowl, though, so his stock is steadily on the rise. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him taken in round two of this year’s draft.
7. A.J. McCarron (Alabama)
McCarron is viewed as a pure game manager with good leadership and instincts, but he’s actually a better passing prospect than Alabama quarterbacks of the past. He doesn’t have an elite arm, but it’s better than advertised, while he’s displayed good pocket presence and accuracy. Many teams will question if he’s a true franchise passer, but he does appear to have the goods to be exactly that. For the best value, though, he’ll probably be drafted in the middle of round two or later.
8. Aaron Murray (Georgia)
Murray’s biggest knock is his lack of size and just six feet, while he’s also coming off of a torn ACL. He’s otherwise fared pretty well against tough competition, coming up with some of his most impressive performances in epic clashes with tough opponents. He’s not the most consistent prospect, but he’s proven to be accurate and displays good arm strength. Murray is arguably one of the more underrated passing prospects this year, while his knee injury should make him an even greater value as he slides in the draft. He has the talent to one day be an NFL starter, but we probably shouldn’t bank on him being selected before round three, if not much later.
9. Tajh Boyd (Clemson)
Boyd began the 2013 season as a locked-in first rounder, if not a guy in real contention to be a top-five pick. He still has the arm and natural talent that got him to that point, but a lack of size and overall inconsistency have really crushed his stock. He’s probably underrated at this point, though, so whoever gets him will be getting good value in the middle to late rounds.
10. Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech)
Thomas does not look like a starting NFL quarterback on a consistent basis, but he probably has the best combination of size, arm strength and athleticism of any passer. The only problem is he’s raw and has yet to put it all together. Because of that, his stock has slid dramatically and he’s unlikely to be anything more than a late pick.
These are the ten best passers this year and there is little resistance to this list. In fact, it’s already hard enough to rank Boyd and Thomas so low in this list, as they have a good skill-set and the tools to succeed at the next level. Overall, this is a widely underrated and overly criticized quarterback crop.